Tuesday, September 25th, 2007
You know, I’ve really enjoyed the tiny pocket-sized chunk’o’ user interface magic that I’ve been toting around the past couple of weeks…as much because I can connect to it and its UNIX-y file system via standard tools like ssh, grab screenshots thanks to enterprising third-party developers, and install programs that can do, well, darn near anything.
The iPhone is a wonderful, thoughtful, game-changing piece of design. My fingers are crossed that Apple won’t screw that up by screwing down the pathways that access all of its internal delights. The best UI in the world won’t succeed in the marketplace if the experience of the users is that they have to work in the shadows to use the device to a fraction of its full potential.
I read somewhere that the overwhelming majority of iPhone users within Apple (every employee got one, you know) have unlocked the phone (which is, by the way, not the same as cracking it so that it can be used with every carrier.)
How could they not? It’s too much fun.
Will greed or bad deals (with the likes of AT&T) take that fun away? Hard to say. But on a day where Amazon pushed out a fine, promising DRM-free competitor to iTunes, the answers are likely to become more and more interesting. I’m hoping Apple again will choose the paths of openness…there’s way-plenty of revenue to be gleaned there, from a universe of happy users.
Friday, September 21st, 2007
I still remember the smell of oily, non-soy-based ink and huge rolls of newsprint down by the loading docks at The Columbus Dispatch. When I first got to see the presses roll, with semi-cylindrical plates poured as liquid metal into forms cast from linotype-set chases, well, that was magic.
It felt like the news was this unstoppable force, like a freight train, loud, powerful, smelly, indomitable. Get the heck out of the way, here comes the news.
And in their own way, television news opens of the 1970s imitated that “unstoppable force” effect with thundering news opens, dramatic cuts of video, and galloping symphonies. Out of the way, here comes television news.
“I don’t think there are easy solutions [for newspapers]. It’s hard when you use the word newspaper. If you mean news-gathering, or just news, take the paper off, then I’m very hopeful. …The problem for print is print. I mean, it’s paper, its current distribution, and it’s going to be supplanted by other paths. So I’m optimistic about the paths but you certainly can’t be optimistic if you’re running a newspaper.”
The best image I can come up with now is the absolutely silent cascade of flickering lights on an internet router. LEDs in red, gold, and green, blink-a-blink-blink. Maybe a soft clatter of a keyboard here or there, or the sounds of two thumbs texting.
Here comes news on little cats’ feet.
I guess I got over my romance with newsprint after driving through Canadian forest-land being stripped to feed those thundering presses.
Wednesday, September 19th, 2007
Does this gentleman (at left) look familiar? How about if I said he was a “gentleman’s gentleman”? Well, I might be confusing the point, because he’s in fact one of Britain’s acting treasures…holding his latest tech treasure.
Turns out Mr. Fry is a long, long, long-time Mac user, and a first-time iCaller. He has seemingly tried out, used up, discarded, or simply mocked more personal portable devices than I will ever see, let alone own, and in his first blog post he manages to lead us through a thoughtful, clever summary of them all, and how we (all) got from a 2-bit smiling Mac icon to the OS X-based pixel glory that is, well, my first phone.
My favorite paragraph is perhaps one of the most parenthetical, where he says he’s “never had fewer than ten working Macs on the go since the late 80s,” and bought the second Macintosh to be sold in the UK…care to guess who snagged the first?
He manages to roll through the promise of device after device, ending in disappointments galore, and then funnels all of that into exactly how the iPhone meets his deepest wants and desires—and how it doesn’t. His thoughtful analysis will, I hope, reach CEO Steve’s bespectacled eyes at some point, if not because of Fry’s celebrity, then because of his alacrity. And besides, Mr. Jobs is hopscotching Europe right now, right?
I’m stunned, shocked, pleased, and hoping for more. Do click over, as perhaps the UK folk would say.
Wednesday, September 19th, 2007
We got a new camera when we were up in Michigan…and then, of course we got another “new camera” when we bought the iPhone. I’ve been shooting some pictures, with varied results, and hope to keep adding to this small collection. It’s kinda ‘ehh’ now, but, well, we’ll see.
The phone’s most intriguing and redeeming photo feature (besides the fact that it’s always there) is, of course, that it’s a fixed-focal-length shot…no zooming in for a composition.
Additionally, the inherent verticalism that the iPhone UI brings to the party is an interesting counterbalance to my natural tendency to shoot horizontals, because of course, in the land of television, everything is horizontal.
Friday, September 14th, 2007
Tonight, WPBA aired three parts of the American Masters series completely out of order. Baffled viewers saw part two of Edward R. Murrow, part 1 of Murrow, and then one on Walter Cronkite, which was supposed to air first.
Maybe it was just baffled viewer, singular. Maybe I was the only one watching.
I called master control. (They seemed surprised an ordinary viewer could get through their phone tree.) “Tape problem,” they said. “We had to do it.”
I was about to launch into a diatribe that would begin “how could a modern station let this happen,” but then I remembered WPBA is barely a station at all, held together with duct tape, and misspent school board money, and anyway, uh, there was that time in the early eighties where WTCG master control (that would be me and two others) aired the reels (yes, film reels) of Hitchcock’s “Rear Window” out of order.
So, instead, I said, “Good luck, and good night.”